BY QUINT QUALLS
The developers of a new mixed-use, live-work community proposed for 780 acres off of Buckner Lane concluded presentations to the public on Tuesday with applause from those in attendance.
Tuesday night’s meeting at the Church of the Nativity was the second such public input session held by developers to start the conversation about the proposed development that could possibly include new interstate access for the city.
The project developer, Southeast Ventures, which was the original developer and planner for Cool Springs in Franklin, joined with engineering and transportation consultants at the session.
Plan would create new “gateway” to city
Jeff Heinze, of Littlejohn Engineering, began by explaining that the 780-acre property off Buckner Lane, commonly referred to as the Alexander Farm by Spring Hill officials, is designated as a “gateway area” in the city’s newly updated comprehensive plan, “Spring Hill Rising: 2040.”
“You can see there’s only one on this property, there’s one where Saturn Parkway eases into Interstate 65 and then there’s one down at the southern end of the city’s growth boundary,” Heinze said.
“And what does it say about what the area should be? It references having compact design or efficient design, being an employment center, having mixed uses for residential and office and commercial, incorporating open spaces and greenways and then a highly-connected, pedestrian-friendly street network.”
Though the project would add more cars to Spring Hill roads, a fundamental draw for city officials is the potential for a new I-65 interchange.
It would be the city’s first direct connection to the interstate and would help relieve the current traffic pressure on U.S. Highway 31, currently the only option for local drivers trying to get to the interstate.
Southeast Venture Principal Randy Parham said preliminary meetings with the Tennessee Department of Transportation concerning the interchange have taken place, but there are no confirmations on its priority with the state.
“This is a 20-year-plus project,” Heinze said. “It’s not going to be three-five years for the interchange. We’ll be doing well if it’s seven, 10 or 12 years. Our vision is long term. We’re looking at how we grow into the future at this property in the northeast part of the city.”
Spring Hill is currently working on justifying the new interchange to the Federal Highway Administration. Brad Thompson, of Volkert Inc., updated the city’s Transportation Advisory Committee just last week on the progress of getting the interchange approved at the federal level.
The proposed development would incorporate a variety of housing, mixed use
Single-family residential space is proposed along the northwest side of the property, fronting Buckner Lane near existing neighborhoods, with a retail section planned just south of it. A section for mixed-use housing types such as multi-family units and live-work units, or buildings with a business on the ground floor and a residence on the second, is proposed for both the northeast and southwest sections of the property.
Greenspace is also set aside around the lake area at the center of the project as well as in pockets through the development.
The section of the Alexander Farm property fronting I-65 to the west is planned to accommodate commercial office and retail space. Heinze said the westernmost portion would serve larger office buildings such as a corporate headquarters, scaling down to 1,200-square-foot office buildings east toward the center of the project.
“The shopping range is very small,” Heinze said. “Restaurants would definitely be a part of it. Grocery – mainly because it would serve current needs of residential units around here. One of the things that is counter to the traffic issue is all the retail and shopping is on Highway 31, and to get there, especially during work hours, you hop in your car and make that trip. So how you solve that is neighborhood scale, or appropriate scale for having the interchange, is one of the goals.”
Amy Burch, of RPM Transportation Consultants, told residents the mixed-use development has a tremendous ability to reduce congestion because it emphasizes internal traffic and has retail and office options so near residences, with additional opportunities for “multi-modal transportation” like walking and biking.
The 780-acre Alexander Farm is currently zoned agriculture and Southeast Venture will need to receive approval from both the Municipal Planning Commission and the Board of Mayor and Alderman to rezone the property in order to proceed with the project. According to Parham, it could potentially be two to three months before a rezoning request comes up for a vote.
Quint Qualls covers Spring Hill for Home Page Media Group. Reach him at [email protected].